Looking for a fun way to get outdoors for some exercise and soak up some sun this summer? Add a few water sports to your list. Every summer, New York is bursting with places to go kayaking, canoeing and rowing. Here are a few places that will let you do just that for free! Schedules are subject to change, so be sure to regularly check the website of the event organizer for the day you plan to get out on the water.
If you’re in Manhattan, then the Hudson River Park is the place to be for free kayaking and rowing.
The Downtown Boathouse will give you a chance to get out on the water at Pier 26. They offer free kayaking on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 am, through October 13. Visitors must know how to swim. Rides last 20 minutes and visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
The Village Community Boathouse offers free rowing every Sunday at noon through the end of October at Pier 40 in Hudson River Park. Visitors will receive a quick orientation and be split into crews with a mix of new and experienced rowers. During their sessions, visitors will be asked to help launch, retrieve and clean their boats. Although rowing is open to all for free, donations to the Village Community Boathouse are welcome.
Neighborhood: Hudson Square
The Manhattan Community Boathouse also holds free kayaking at Pier 96. On the weekend, you can drop by between 10 am and 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays through October 13. During the week, you can walk up between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays through the end of August. Two people maximum can ride in each kayak, and all visitors must know how to swim. Rides are first-come, first-served, and visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Neighborhood: Hell’s Kitchen
Head on down to the Pier 2 floating dock in the Brooklyn Bridge Park for free kayaking through the end of August. Single and double kayaks are available, and visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. No experience is necessary, so just come ready to learn! Kayaking is first-come, first-served, but the line closes one hour before the official end time. Stop by on Thursdays between 5:30 pm and 6:45 pm, or walk up on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 am and 2 pm.
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
The Red Hook Boaters hosts offers kayaking in Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park. Visitors will receive some paddling tips before they explore these protected waters and their wildlife. Rides are limited to 20 minutes, and visitors are asked to join members the Red Hook Boaters for a beach cleanup either before or after their ride. Minors must be accompanied by an adult, and everyone should expect to get a little wet! You can stop by on Thursdays from 6 pm to 8 pm through August 15 or on Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm through September 22. (Note that kayaking will not be offered on September 8.)
Neighborhood: Red Hook
The L.I.C. Community Boathouse provides free kayaking and canoeing at alternating locations on Sundays through September 1. Visit Anable Basin from noon to 4 pm, or hit the Socrates Sculpture Park Beach in Hallet’s Cove from 1 pm to 4 pm the following Sunday. You don’t need to have any prior experience, and boats are first-come, first-served. Don’t forget to wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting wet. Visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. And if your dog is well-behaved, you can even bring him along too!
Neighborhood: Long Island City and Astoria
If you’re looking for more than paddling alone, don’t miss Free Community Fridays in Concrete Plant Park. The Bronx River Alliance holds these from 4 pm to 8 pm on the fourth Friday of every month through October. Besides free paddling, you can also take tours of the Foodway garden, attend art workshops and more!
Here’s your chance to explore the Bronx River (on student-built rowboats!) and learn about local waterways from staff. Rocking the Boat offers free rowing every Saturday from 1 pm to 6 pm through August 31 at Hunts Point Riverside Park. Visitors under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Neighborhood: Hunts Point
Take the family out for a row in Van Cortlandt Park on Fridays from 4:30 pm to 7 pm through the end of August. The Village Community Boathouse offers free 25-minute rowing sessions here on a first-come, first-served basis. Children must be accompanied by a parent in these handmade wooden rowboats. Rowing is free for all, but donations to the Village Community Boathouse are welcome.
Neighborhood: Van Cortlandt Village
Kayak Staten Island holds free walk-up paddling sessions on select Fridays and Sundays through the end of August. Visitors should dress in water shoes and clothing that can get wet before they embark on their 20-minute rides.